Exclusive Interview : Tanna Frederick

Clint Morris talks to the “Hollywood Dreams” star

Its safe to say Tanna Frederick is the next big thing – you only have to Google her to name to see the abundance of praise that’s following her. CLINT MORRIS caught up with the star of “Hollywood Dreams” to talk about the acclaimed film, its sequel and making it in Hollywood.

Yours really is a fairytale story…. you wrote a filmmaker, Henry Jaglom, despite the fact that you’d never seen any of his movies, and he wrote you a role in his new pic?!

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that…Yes, I pulled a Hollywood hustle and wrote him a letter after only seeing the opening credits, but it was proceeded by his inviting me to a screening of ‘Festival In Cannes’…After the end credits rolled-I was a complete sobbing mess and knew this was the work I wanted to do, so I set forth to convince Jaglom I was a perfect candidate for his work. I knew I needed to prove I was up to the task of acting in one of his films, so when he nonchalantly tossed me a script ‘A Safe Place’ (that was his only existing play at the time) and suggested I ‘do a scene for an acting class’, I took it a step further and found a producer and a theatre starred myself in it for a three month run…After Jaglom came to many of the shows, he approached me about starring in Hollywood Dreams…So there you have it…I think sometimes we intuitively go after things that are meant to be, even if we don’t know it at the time, in reference to my letter to Jaglom. But, that may just be a front for the fact that I’m a devious hustling actress, I don’t know.

Tell us about that movie

Jaglom set out to make a film that he had wanted to make since the 1970’s about actors and their quest for fame. I read some of Jack Nicholson’s biographies in which Henry was fascinated with the drive and ambition of actors, the emotional pain behind what gives people in this business to forge ahead and the stakes that feed that necessity to be famous…I was holding down four jobs, waitressing, passing out Pepsi samples in target parking lots, and taking care of a woman who was very ill – this is certainly not a different story than anyone else’s in Hollywood. Jaglom prepared a script for me, incorporating that with a sort of ‘All About Eve’ meets ‘A Star is Born’ meets ‘State Fair’ finesse to the whole deal.
It was a wonderful, wild, fun experience, the cast was brilliant – Melissa Leo, David Proval, Zack Norman, Justin Kirk, and Karen Black – and it’s a completely bizarre yet not so far from the truth Alice In Wonderland story about my character, ‘Margie Chizek’, and her quest to make it in Hollywood.

The reviews are excellent – was that the icing on the cake for you?

Yes, the reviews were amazing…But I can’t wrap my head around reviews, I’m too impatient…I immediately dove into the next role for Jaglom’s following film, ‘Irene In Time’, an entirely different character from the one in the prior film.

You’re a fan of films from the Golden Era – did you inject some of those performances into your role here?

Absolutely. My preparation for the film consisted basically of one year of watching three to four films a day from the Golden Era, and reading every single biography I could get my hands on from that period…Because my character’s drive came from her childhood, namely watching old films with her grandmother and brother, she had an idyllic sense of ‘making it’ – being this bigger than life actress of the Golden Era means Margie Chizek’s view of acting rested upon these huge performances in the 30’s and 40’s and her choices in life were as bold and uncompromising as those performances as well. I used her obsession with the 40’s as a way she stays in a continuous mental state of delusion, a way to block out the pain of a childhood trauma she underwent – every time she bordered on a breakdown, she had that world to be her safety net.

What can you tell us about “Irene in Time”?

It’s a beautiful film about fathers and daughters…I play a girl, Irene, who cannot find the ideal man because essentially she’s searching for her father in all of them, and because her father died when she was young, it’s all the more difficult for any of these men to meet her standards of male perfection. It’s very ‘Déjà vu’ -ish in the sense that it incorporates magical realism and a chord of longing that resonates throughout…

And there’s a “Hollywood Dreams” sequel happening? Have you met Noah Wyle yet?

Oh, yes, we’ve been meeting with Noah for a while now. Henry develops his films from the actors themselves, so it’s always a process of getting to know the actor and then crafting a role and performance from the fascinating intricacies and neurosis of that actor’s psyche. I can’t wait to work with Noah, he’s a brilliant actor and I think he will gel great with Jaglom’s material…We did a benefit reading of Jaglom’s ‘Always but Not Forever’ at the Edgemar Theatre and he just had that kind of Jaglomian complexity that is fascinating for this kind of work.

How long have you been practicing martial arts – what was it that encouraged you to take that up?

9 Years…I started in college to fill a requirement, but ended up getting so enthralled I joined the college’s competitive Tae Kwon Do team and went on tourneys through the Midwest. I don’t know, I think it’s the farm girl scrapper in me that likes to get in little fights now and again…I went on to do Kick Boxing and Thai Boxing then grappling and wrestling…It’s also an incredible meditative state for me to go to – I can’t quite handle the yoga thing, I’m not proud of that, but sitting still gets me worked up – so when I’m doing forms or sparring or rounds, continuous ferocious movement, I find a place in my head that is completely peaceful and still.

Having said that, is there an ‘action movie’ in you?

Now THAT will be the icing on the cake! There is definitely an action movie in me, a sequel, and quite possibly a trilogy. That is my idea of bliss…Training twelve hours a day for weeks or months and then getting to put that on film…When I do that, I can say ‘I’ve made it.’

Where were you this time five years ago?

Five years ago…I was waiting tables at a restaurant in the valley run by a lovely Armenian couple that loved the Sopranos and decided they were going to turn the restaurant into the ‘Soprano’s’ restaurant. I was wearing a newsboy cap, suspenders, and talking in a half-assed (can I say that?) New York accent threatening, “If you don’t order the whitefish special you’re going to sleep with them.” A definite highlight of my Hollywood career….

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